Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Panthers remind me of...

It's Shawn...

The UNI basketball team reminds me of the Iowa football team.  The Panthers can play with anyone, yet anyone can play with them.  Like the Hawks, the Panthers usually do the little things, and find a way to win close games.  Maybe this is the year UNI finally makes it to the weekend at the NCAA tournament.

Kudos to Drake for the full-fledged sendoff for Josh Young and the rest of the Bulldogs seniors.  I don't know what the waiting period is before a number can be retired, but #20 deserves to be in the rafters at the Knapp Center as soon as possible.

I had a great time meeting and interviewing Alison Lacey's family on Friday.   The Lacey's are from Canberra, Australia, which is 9095 miles from Ames.  The trip involves four connections and roughly 24 hours of flying time.  I get antsy just thinking about being on a plane that long.

Can the gold medal hockey game live up to the hype?  I'm not sure, but I can't wait to park myself on the couch for three hours Sunday to find out.  It's a good time to be a fair-weather hockey fan.

Talk to you again soon,


Friday, February 26, 2010

Ames Haters, Ohno Takes Fall, Fallon=Late Night

  • I remember being at the Ames High-Iowa Energy tripleheader a few weeks ago. Some nice kids from Johnston guaranteed the Dragons would take down Harrison Barnes and the Little Cyclones at State. Not gonna happen. Johnston didn't even make it to the substate final after a Friday night upset by the young Ankeny Hawks. March Madness begins in February. Anything can happen, even to a good team like Johnston.
  • Ames' success inspires jealousy. I received a passionate email today about Linn Mar being better than Ames. The writer predicted Ames will fall. Hey, I don't have a dog in the fight, but I'll be shocked if Ames loses. Little Cyclones won their substate final by 42. That's ridiculous.
  • Apolo Ohno has plenty of medals (8), but he should have one more. Ohno didn't push anyone down. Those speed-skaters put a hand on the back/butt of the skater in front of them all the time. Dude fell, but Ohno took the fall.
  • Team USA absolutely punked Finland. I have no Finland hate, I don't even know Finland, but those first few minutes were fun. It was like video game hockey.
  • Canada hung on as Slovakia kept the pressure dialed up to 11. Awesome finish. Can't wait for the gold medal game here on channel 13 Sunday at 2 p.m. I think Canada wins the rematch, but I'll be wearing the red, white, and blue, yelling at the TV. I hope you will too. (Tickets to the game in Vancouver are going for more than $4,000.)
  • The Canadian women celebrated their hockey gold like a college fraternity winning the Greek Olympics. Some hated it, others loved it. It was a little much, but there are worse things than appearing really excited you accomplished your ultimate goal.
  • Alison Lacey's parents travel 9,000 miles, 24 hours from Australia to Ames, to see their daughter play for Iowa State. Moms & dads are like that.
  • The Iowa Energy is the first NBA D-League team to wear pink uniforms in the fight against breast cancer. Think Pink Saturday night against Sioux Falls. I'll be there.
  • NBC postponed the start of local news 15 minutes Friday night for a shameless Jimmy Fallon promo with a piano playing Bob Costas. At least Fallon was funny. If I weren't anxious to go home, I would have enjoyed it more. Then again, Fallon=Late Night, and he proved it.
  • Our family ate at J. Benjamins tonight. It was A+ all the way around, from service to food to atmosphere.
  • Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy Shawn and Chris!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hawkeyes Not On ESPN Classic, Kim Yu-Na Rules

  • ESPN won't be adding Thursday night's Iowa vs Northwestern basketball game to ESPN Classic anytime soon. Iowa didn't play for a week, and still somehow came out flat and unprepared. The game felt over five minutes in, and it's a step back for an Iowa team that had shown a pulse recently.
  • USA Today featured a front page story on Steve Alford. Alford has coached New Mexico to a 23-3 record. He took a mild swipe at Iowa, but nothing harsh. He's right when saying New Mexico  is a basketball school and Iowa isn't. Getting worse too.
  • No team in our state gives better effort night in night out than Bill Fennelly's Cyclones. A team picked for the bottom half of the Big 12 is now #15 in the nation with 21 wins. 
  •  I don't know much about figure skating, but even an amateur observer like me can see South Korea's Kim Yu-Na is far better than anyone else. She wins the gold with the pressure of a nation riding her small shoulders. Bravo.
  • Ozzie Guillen is now on Twitter. I wonder if he has a filter between his thoughts and his fingers. He certainly doesn't have one before words reach his mouth, and I love it. Lou Piniella responded---and I'm not making this up---"What is Twitter?"
  • I guess we know why the McGwire brothers don't speak.
  • Look for MLB players to fight testing for HGH with all their might. Why? Because many are on it, still cheating.
  • I can't wait for USA vs. Finland hockey Friday at 2 p.m. here on channel 13 in HD. (If you're reading this after the game, I hope we'll see Team USA skate for gold Sunday afternoon.)
  • Why are so many columnists calling for Tiger Woods suspension from the PGA? I lost a lot of respect for the guy too, but if you start suspending professional athletes for infidelity, you'll have to start postponing games too.
  • "Scores" adult entertainment club is calling for a new Olympic sport: Pole Dancing.  
  • "Cop Out" stars two of my favorite actors, Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis, but early reviews suggest it's another Kevin Smith stinkbomb.
  • The Iowa Energy will wear pink uniforms Saturday night to support the fight against breast cancer. This idea has played out everywhere this month. I hope to be there Saturday night right after our daytime glow in the dark bowling birthday party at Air-Lanes. It's not for me.
  • Speaking of bowling, I couldn't believe how good the high school bowlers at State are. (see video in sports player) It seems like every kid at Plaza Lanes rolled 200 or higher. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What the Crap, Ed?!

  • It wasn't pretty, and  it wasn't easy, but Iowa State's win over Nebraska Wednesday night was desperately needed. The Cyclones entered the game with six straight losses. Enter ISU's slumpbuster: Nebraska. In nearly every sport this year, when the Clones need to end an ugly skid, Big Red is there.
  • Welcome back, Craig Brackins. Brackins put the Cyclones on his back at crunch time, just like an NBA first round draft pick should. It may help basketball fans forget how ugly much of the game was.
  • Did you catch this blog note from the Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson: Lucca Staiger has played 3 minutes and scored 0 points in Germany. He had to leave Iowa State in mid-season for that? Clearly, Lucca wasn't happy in Ames. He needed to make that decision before or after the season. Iowa State stood by him for a long time when he was ineligible.
  • Iowa plays Northwestern Thursday night on national television. ESPN must be psyched for that match-up.
  • Josh Young will leave Drake with a win everywhere in the Valley but Missouri State.
  • Olympic hockey does much more for expanding interest in the sport than the NHL. My wife asked me tonight what channel she could watch Russia vs. Canada. I nearly dropped.
  • It was cool to hear Bucs GM, JP Parise, from Vancouver, choke up with pride when talking about his son, Zach, scoring 2 goals for Team USA.
  • If you missed Andy Fales' story with the young hockey players, it's worth checking out on the news video player.
  • The aerial ski jumping is amazing. I really don't know how anyone can do that.
  • It's 0 degrees. What the crap, Ed!?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ugly loss for UNI, Suzy stops by.

  • Bad, ugly, head-scratching loss by UNI. Evansville is one of the worst teams in the country, and though I still think we'll see the Panthers in the Big Dance, they played themselves back near the bubble, if not on it.
  • Wayne Morgan took in the Energy-Bighorns NBA D-League game Tuesday night. He had a good reason, his former guards at Iowa State, Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock guarded each other. No school hired Morgan after he was fired, which tells you a lot, but he remains the last men's coach in Iowa to win a D1 NCAA tourney game. How crazy is that?
  • Energy won again, so Stinson has the upper hand over Blalock, 3-2.
  • Call me jingoistic, but I don't want our newscast delayed an additional 10 minutes so we can hear the Canadian national anthem. 11 p.m. is late enough, but I'm happy to wait for 11:10 to see an American wear gold and hear the Star Spangled Banner, but that's it. Oh Canada can wait for 11:35.
  • The Grand Blue Mile through the streets of Des Moines April 20th is yet another great idea from Drake Relays director Bryan Brown. He's on a roll.
  • I interviewed Suzy Favor-Hamilton Tuesday. She is an all-time fan favorite at the Relays. Back when she was just Suzy Favor she was the subject of crushes all over the Midwest, including more than a few here in Iowa.
  • It was once thought human beings could not run the mile in under four minutes---their hearts would explode. Steve Scott, who was here with Suzy, has run more than 130 sub-4 minute miles. Amazing.
  • Happy birthday, Shawn Terrell.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hockey vs. Ice Dancing, Shutter Island vs. Percy Jackson

  • Nothing NBC has done during this Olympiad riled people up like not putting the USA vs. Canada hockey match on the mothership. The fans are right. Maybe NBC didn't have to go wall-to-wall with it, but why not cut in from time-to-time. I realize research shows most viewers, particularly women, will not watch hockey, but if NBC had aggresively marketed and promoted the game, it could have worked. I'm sure after the United States upset there's some second-guessing going on. (The game was the most watched sporting event in Canada's history.)
  • Do you work with a Canadian? Did you notice he did not show up for work Monday.
  • I'm a casual hockey fan who's learning to appreciate the sport more and more, thanks in no small part to high definition. We can finally see the puck. That made Sunday night's decision worse for most of us because MSNBC is not in HD around these parts.
  • Al Michaels terrific feature on the 1980 Miracle on Ice team should have been shown in prime time Sunday, not at 4 p.m.
  • Ice Dancing... no shortage of ice dancing Monday night. The Americans did win silver on an otherwise off day for the dominant USA. The dude looked like Christopher Atkins in Blue Lagoon. And hey, Canada won gold! Does that make up for the hockey game?
  • Did you know the Marriage Ref is coming to NBC?
  • I saw Shutter Island over the weekend. Scorsese's fingerprints are all over it, but it's not Goodfellas mode, it's more like Cape Fear. My wife expected "scary", but it's actually a creepy thriller with moody atmosphere, plot twists, and mind-bending dreams. You're not sure if what you're seeing is real. The ending begs for a second viewing. I'm in, barely, but I think once will be enough for some. Upgraded to B+ after having the movie pop into my mind several times.
  • Also took the kids to Percy Jackson: Lightning Thief. They loved it. I just kept remembering how much I hated Greek Mythology. B-

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No 'Miracle', USA is Better

Hassel here...

Canada may think its hockey team is the best in the world, but it's not...for now, at least. Team USA out-played the Canadians IN Canada. I saw a fan with a sign that read "Hockey is CANADA's Sport" ... That may be true, but American's play it too, and they're darn good. Ryan Miller gave up 3 goals, but that guy was, by FAR, the MVP. The US, and Russia, are the best two teams I've seen so far.

I thought the Cyclones were finally going to pull one out when they stormed back to cut the Texas A&M lead to 1 in the final minutes. I should have known better.

The Hawkeye men's basketball team didn't lose this weekend. In a related story, the Hawkeye men's basketball team didn't play.

Is there any way we can just skip the Big Ten and Big 12 wrestling championships? We know that Iowa and ISU will win, going away. This year's national championships will be held at the Qwest Center in Omaha. That's the only event that matters.

ISU fans will be calling it a "Cyclone State" for the next year. Iowa State clinched the 'Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series' championship, Sunday afternoon, with a win in gymnastics. This this info with a grain of salt.

Shawn Johnson goes from training, to recuperating. The Olympic gold-medalist tore her ACL while skiiing on vacation in Colorado. She had surgery on Tuesday, and will be in a boot for 6-weeks. Doug Johnson, Shawn's dad, tells our Shawn Terrell that she won't be able to train for 6-months. Johnson has yet to decide if she will try to qualify for the 2012 olympics. I'd be shocked if we see her in a major gymnastics event, again...and I don't think this injury will have anthing to do with her decision.

3 'if's" :
If the ISU men don't beat Nebraska on Wednesday, they'll be in last place.
If George Washington wasn't dead, he'd turn 278 on Monday.
If you don't want 'Man vs. Wild' on the Discovery Channel, start.

Remember, SoundOFF returns a week from Tonight.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

No mention of Tiger Woods

  • They were turning people away at the Ames High gym Friday night. Everyone wanted to see if the Metro's best basketball team, Hoover, could push the #1 ranked Little Cyclones. Hoover did, taking a fourth quarter lead, but Ames pulled away at crunch time.
  • Harrison Barnes can take over a game anytime he wants. Credit Barnes for playing within the team concept. He'll be better for it. So will North Carolina.
  • UNI is in the NCAA Tourney right now. Nice win over Old Dominion on national TV.
  • Plushenko needs to shut his hole. He lost.
  • The downhill skiing is nerve-wracking to watch. When someone falls, they don't stop quickly. It's a reminder how fast they're going. Riveting.
  • Did you see Stephen Colbert climb into NBC's fake fireplace? Funny.
  • What the crap, Ed. More snow? A lot more snow?! Will this winter ever end.
  • Shawn Johnson bobblehead night Saturday night at Bucs Arena. (No more "actual size" jokes.)
  • Did you see Andy Fales' story on the guys in West Des Moines who made an outdoor Mancave of snow? Funny. And cool. Literally.
  • My wife and I rented Poltergeist to show to the older kids. I wonder if it will still be scary in 2010 or if it will seem lame now.
  • I can't wait to see Shutter Island.
  • To quote the Black Eyed Peas, Imma be, Imma be, Imma be enjoying this weekend. Hope you be too.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Balboa vs. Drago

  • The Winter Olympics most popular sport with television viewers, by far, is figure skating. What do you think is second? (pause for thought bubble)... Snowboarding. 
  • I completely appreciate the skill and talent of these male figure skaters, but I just can't get into it. Anytime an athlete wears something Lady Gaga thinks is garish, it makes me uncomfortable.
  • Never mind. Right after I typed that, American Evan Lysacek clinched the gold over Russian Evgeni Plushenko. It was like Rocky Balboa over Ivan Drago, without the steroids.
  • About the time one of my kids asked during dinner break, "Dad, how do those skiers go so close to the poles without running into them", Lindsey Vonn hooked her ski on a gate and crashed. She was disappointed, but not devastated. Once you have a gold medal, it's all cake. Nice to see Julia Mancuso so proud and excited for silver. It shouldn't be gold or bust. Compete hard, have fun.
  • Women's halfpipe gold medalist (2002) Kelly Clark is from West Dover, Vermont. We both grew up going to Mt. Snow, only she went on to the Olympics, and I moved to Florida with 0 wins. (I still can't think of the name of that kid who beat me down the mountain every time. Help me Mom!)
  • Bet you didn't know... The United States hockey team is 2-0 for the first time in history.
  • Props to the Golf Writers Association of America for boycotting Tiger Woods farce of a news conference. Tiger controls everything because he can. Or can he. What exactly has he learned the past two months?
  • NBC will carry Tiger's statement live Friday at 10 a.m.
  • PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said Thursday night Tiger is returning to therapy after the "news conference" concludes, which shouldn't take long since he's not taking any questions.
  • It is important to remember Tiger Woods didn't cheat his sport, a la McGwire, he cheated his wife. Tiger didn't break the law, a la Vick, he broke his vows. 
  • Tiger's not who we thought he was, and he let a lot of people down, but most of this is personal.
  • I doubt I'll ever look at Tiger Woods quite the same way, but I never knew him anyway. I loved to watch him play golf. I likely will again.
  • It's 11:28 p.m. and our news is finally starting. Thank you NBC for not interviewing Dick Button.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

  • Not to get all Lee Greenwood on you, but Wednesday night brought out a lot of American pride. Yes, the Olympics are too corporate, the athletes are no longer amateurs, and NBC's tape delays can be frustrating, but when we see magic moments, it still brings the chills. At least it does for me. 6 medals for the USA in one day; that's our best showing ever. The United States leads the medal count with 14.
  • Among the 6 medals Wednesday, 3 golds. Lindsey Vonn rested her shin and lived up to the hype with a daring downhill dash. Her tearful interview after the win would melt anyone. And yes, she's good looking.
  • Shaun White, the Flying Tomato, defies gravity on his board. This sport blows my mind. I can't believe how high White was (insert snowboarding joke here). And how 'bout the dude on the ipod. Just rockin' out during competition at the Olympics.
  • Critics keep calling for more live coverage. They may pump the brakes after overhearing profanity following White's win.
  • Shani Davis is a loner. He goes his own way, but man can he skate fast. Davis becomes the first man to win back-to-back gold in the 1000 meters.
  • Stephen Colbert caused Bob Costas a laugh-lock when Colbert climbed inside the NBC studio's fireplace to warm up during late night coverage. Apparently the fire isn't real. Who knew?
  • The Olympics are dominating TV ratings, but did finally lose a two hour time slot. I'll bet you know it was to American Idol. That show just dominates. My wife won't watch until the 24 finalists start singing live. I think that's next week.
  • Iowa football star Adrian Clayborn agrees to plead guilty to something next month regarding the allegation he assaulted an Iowa City cab driver. Coach Kirk Ferentz didnt suspend Clayborn last year, said he'd wait and see what happened. Almost that time.
  • Great to see Bobby Elliott coming back to our state. The former Hawkeye will coach at Iowa State for a third time. It's a home run hire by Paul Rhoads.
  • The Iowa Barnstormers will play four times on the NFL Network, three live from Wells Fargo Arena. One big problem for most of us: Mediacom still doesn't carry the NFL Network.
  • Tiger Woods will finally come forward and hold a news conference (Friday 10 a.m.), but it will be carefully controlled and orchestrated. Will that be enough? Much depends on whether he looks sincere.
  • Shawn Terrell worked his butt off at state wrestling Wednesday. He even lost 7 pounds and made weight in time for the late news.
  • It's easy for some to poke fun at the small town people coming to the "big city", but it's actually kind of cool.
  • Iowa State needed that win over Oklahoma State in the worst way. It's hard to believe the Cyclones are now a .500 team.
  • What a scrappy effort out of the Cyclone women. Alison Lacey can't play after suffering a concussion in practice Tuesday, Iowa State still comes within ten points of the #3 team in the nation at Nebraska.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Iowa would like those 10 seconds back

  • Ouch. It didn't shake up the standings, but Iowa blew a chance for a nice home win. The Hawks made all the wrong moves in the final 10 seconds and gave Michigan a chance to tie, which the Wolverines did. OT seemed like a bad idea for Iowa, and it was.
  • When did Aaron Fuller turn into a full grown MAN. 30 points, 13 rebounds? Can't say no one's developing.
  • UNI didn't miss Jordan Eglseder inside. Didn't need anyone inside. Not when the Panthers knock down 13 threes.
  • Why do so many people enjoy watching Creighton struggle?
  • No team is more unpredictable than Drake. It was the good kind Tuesday night.
  • No one is going to beat Ames in boys basketball, but at least Johnston kept it to single digits. And that was after falling behind 18-0. Shawn Terrell says if the Dragons hadn't come out so puckered, it might have been a different game.
  • Lindsey Jacobellis waited four years to atone for her hotdogging mistake in Torino. Showing off cost her the gold. This time Jacobellis catches a tough break and is run out of bounds. That was heartbreaking.
  • Men's figure skaters can do moves the women can't, but it's one "sport" I still much prefer watching the women. Maybe it's the costumes. They're starting to look a lot like Chaz Michael Michaels'.
  • How good did the sun feel. I thought it was 50 degrees, and it was actually 20.
  • Former Iowa Chop Bobby Ryan scored a goal for Team USA at the Olympics. Won't be long before we have to explain what an "Iowa Chop" was --- unless we're eating.
  • It will be a short night of sleep for me. I have 2 hours of American Idol to catch up on (DVR), then I'll watch the Olympic prime time re-broadcast in HD beginning at 1 a.m.  I was watching three basketball games at once tonight and didn't get my Olympic fix.
  • State wrestling begins Wednesday. You know what that means... speed traps all over the metro. Be careful. And oh yeah, it also means the best tourney in the nation is underway.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rasslin' and Wrestling...

  • During commercial breaks of the Olympics, I'm flipping over to USA for WWE Raw starring Jerry Springer. It's live from Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. My IQ drops a little with each visit, but I know a lot of people who grew up on this stuff. It's like a soap opera for the testosterone-driven. Andy Fales did a story, but the WWE wouldn't let him anywhere inside the Well with a camera. That's unusual because the folks at the Iowa Events Center will usually find a way to provide the media access. This might have been a good thing though. Chances are good Andy would have been hit over the head with a real chair.
  • In news of real wrestling. The world's greatest high school tournament starts Wednesday. Can't believe it's here already. If you've never been, put it on your bucket list. You have to see it to believe it. Watching the parents can, at times, provide more entertainment than the wrestlers.
  • When the American flag goes up, the Star Spangled Banner begins, and the United States athlete tears up, I'm there too. Gets me every time.
  • Good to see Bode Miller act like he cares. He lost the gold by about a foot.
  • Snowboard Cross is a made for the new generation Olympic sport, but my boys love it, and it is exciting. You know what you're in for when the athletes are wearing snow pants made to look like blue jeans. The Westcott gold medal dash was awesome.
  • NBC hasn't done a lot right lately, but the network is doing right by the Olympics, and blockbuster ratings reflect that. (That and the high medal count for the U-S, not to meantion snowstorms everywhere but Vancouver.)
  • Did the Daytona 500 really stop for more than 2 hours because of a gigantic pot hole?! I expect that on Ingersoll as I'm driving home, not on NASCAR's most famous track.
  • The new rules did work. The race was exciting---when they were actually racing.
  • I watched the NBA All-Star game to learn about defense. I also wanted to see if 100,000 people would really show. They did. The All-Star game does know how to reach a younger generation. The festivities did not feature The Who.
  • The Iowa State women are now ranked #13 in what was supposed to be a down year. Fennelly.
  • Speaking of Fennelly, he's already applauding the news KXNO is carrying Cardinals baseball. Andy now works at KXNO. Coincidence?
  • I watched "Temple Grandin" this weekend. It's the HBO original movie of a woman with Autism who becomes a pioneer in the study of animals. That makes it sound dull. It's not. Great movie. Get the Emmy ready for Claire Danes now.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday - February 14, 2010 (V-Day)

It's Chris. Happy Valentine's Day to all...especially those that consider this the greatest day of the year (my wife).

It wasn't a lovely day for the UNI men's basketball team. Star center, Jordan Eglseder, was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), on Sunday morning. Panther head coach Ben Jacobson suspended the 7'1 senior for 3 games. UNI may be ranked 19th, right now, but they could fall out of the top-25 when the new poll comes out on Monday. At 22-3, they are by no means a lock for the NCAA tournament. With 4 regular season games remaining, the Panthers can't afford to lose more than 1. If they want to be dancing in March, they better plan on winning the Valley tournament.

On a side note, the Panthers almost clinched an outright regular season Valley title, on Sunday. However, Wichita State held off Missouri State by 2. The Panthers can wrap it up on Tuesday, at home, against Creighton.

Iowa and Iowa State notched blowout wins, today. You're right to assume that I'm talking about wrestling. I thought that poor Minnesota wrestler that lost, big, to Brent Metcalf was going to walk off the mat after the 2nd period.

Register sports-writer, Andrew Logue, had an interesting 'tweet', this evening. He says that the Iowa and ISU men's bball teams have combined to lose 37 straight games against ranked opponents. That's shocking. I thought it would be much higher.

If you're surprised at how well the ISU women's team is playing, this're not alone. ISU was planning on celebrating Bill Fennelly's 500th win, next winter. Well, the 'Silver Fox' is now just 8 wins away from that milestone. The Cyclone's are guarenteed at least 8 more games this year. If I had to guess, I'd say they'll play at least 10 more.

Canada is off to a great start in Women's hockey. They beat Slovakia, 18-0, this weekend. The good news, for the losing team...their goalie made 49 saves.

I'm not a NASCAR fan, but I tried to watch some of the Daytona 500, today. I, honestly, don't know what makes better television; Racing, or pot-hole analysis. At least superstar Jamie McMurray was able to get back into the winner's circle, and hold off that no-name who finished 2nd.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

It's Shawn...

All four Big Four men's basketball teams lost on Saturday, but UNI's loss at Bradley is the biggest head-scratcher.  The Panthers entered with the second-best scoring defense in the country at 55 points per game, yet the Braves scored 45 points in the second half alone.  UNI fans shouldn't get too worked up though... sometimes a loss before the stretch run can be a good thing.  Besides, the Panthers will still clinch their first outright MVC regular season title in school history with their next win, or Wichita St.'s next loss.

LaRon Dendy missed his second-straight game Saturday, and that's disconcerting.  Dendy reportedly returned to his native South Carolina on Monday following the death of his great-grandmother.  The funeral was Thursday, and based on similar circumstances with other college athletes, it's unusual that Dendy wasn't back with the team for Saturday's loss at top-ranked Kansas.  To be fair, everyone handles grief differently.  Greg McDermott was pretty much forced to use a six-player rotation.  Not surprisingly, the Jayhawks eventually wore down the Cyclones.

Talk about a stark contrast... the difference between the Boilermakers and Hawkeyes was startling. Purdue is long, athletic, and incredibly physical.  Iowa was no match for the sixth-ranked Boilers.  Purdue won by 23, which is pretty mis-leading, and not in a good way.  Rumors about player transfers are already beginning to swirl.  Todd Lickliter can't afford another mass exodus.

One week after becoming Drake's all-time leading scorer, Josh Young becomes Drake's all-time leading three-point shooter. But the Bulldogs have still lost five of their last six games.  A week ago, I felt strongly the Dogs could make some noise in St. Louis.  I no longer feel the same way.

How about something positive to end on?  Bill Fennelly is lauded often for his coaching acumen, but Fennelly may be in the midst of his best coaching job yet. The Cyclones accumulated wins early and often thanks to a soft non-conference schedule, but I was certain they'd get chewed up in the Big 12.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  I'd nominate Fennelly for a lifetime contract at Iowa State, but he already has one.

Peace and Pearl Jam,


Friday, February 12, 2010

While watching the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony...

  • I'm at home, watching in glorious HD. I'll soon head back to work where I'm pretending I work in the weather office because Ed has a BIG OL' HDTV.
  • Speaking of weather, mind-blowing factoid of the day. 49 of 50 states recorded measurable snow today. Only Hawaii refused to join Snowmageddon.
  • There is absolutely no possible way the Vancouver opening ceremonies can equal Beijing's. Try not to even compare because it will just make you appreciate the hard work of our friends to the north less.
  • First Opening Ceremony indoors. Did you know that? I learned that today. It's better outdoors. It's the Winter Olympics for goodness sakes.
  • NBC reporter Mary Carillo had one of her usual terrific reports, this one on the Olympic Torch Run. I had the privilege of running with the torch in 2002. I can't put into words how exhilarating and emotional it was. The time just flew by. I've never run so effortlessly, not even in my younger days. I'll never forget it, and I still can't quite explain the magic.
  • It's good to have Cris Collinsworth, Dan Patrick, Bob Costas, and Al Michaels working the Olympics. It makes me feel like an NFL football game might break out, and I'm already missing it.
  • Speaking of football, I'm disappointed to learn Peyton Manning rushed off the Super Bowl field without shaking hands. That's just bad sportsmanship, I don't care how you spin it. Come on, Peyton. You're better than that.
  • Back to the Opening Ceremony... Lindsey Vonn revealed she plans to ski. Try to act surprised. She's going Dwight Freeney on the other countries.
  • The new, not  improved We Are The World video just played. It's a benefit for Haiti, so I can't be too critical. It's a good effort. I realize I'm 45 now and not into music as much as I was back in 1986. Back then, I knew all the singers. This time, 75% at most, and only that high because my boys play the videos of some of those singers. Even adjusted for generations, the star power didn't approach the original, even with old video of Michael Jackson inserted. And the singing---where were the one-liners that popped?! Nice effort, but I'll stick with the original. Age or ear?
  • I just saw a nice HD promo for channel 13 news. Why am I the only one goofing? I was just having fun at the skating rink downtown. I want to look credible like John Bachman. That guy is made for television. It comes naturally.
  • I'm going to see "Runt of the Litter" this weekend. Can't wait.
  • If you're a fan of "Sandlot" like me, you always wonder what happened to the one and only  Wendy Peffercorn. Well, the former lifeguard is 35 now, and all grown up. (Squints, we're proud of you.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's the name of the kid who used beat me down the hill?

  • When I was a little boy in Vermont I used to ski race on the slopes of Mt. Snow. I loved it. My sister, Barbara, always won a gold medal, but I never won gold. There was this one kid, no matter how fast I skied, he would ski a little faster. I thought I'd never forget his name, but as I sit here tonight, I can't remember. I'll just call him "winner"...or  "dream smasher".
  • I digress. Can't wait for the Winter Olympics. There are many reasons, but at the top of the list: HD. It's all going to be in HD! I remember four years ago going back to master control at the TV station where there was one small high def television. We would watch the hockey and be amazed how much it looked like watching a game live through a window. We have more HD sets now, and more on the way, but none in the sports office yet. I'll find a way, or hang out in the weather office for two weeks.
  • I'll be stunned if golden girl Lindsey Vonn doesn't ski.
  • Is there any way the opening ceremonies in Vancouver can live up to Beijing? In a word, no.
  • Des Moines Christian's Branden Stubbs passed the 2,000 point mark Thursday night. That's a serious milestone.
  • The Big Ten wants Texas? Who wouldn't want Texas. Can't see it happening though.
  • Bo Eason came by KXNO and WHO-TV today. The former Houston Oiler performs a one-man play he wrote that has blown away Leonardo Dicaprio, Frank Darabont, Rosie O'Donnell and others (how's that for an eclectic group). It's called "Runt of the Litter" and it's at the Civic Center's Temple Theater. I'm going to try and see it this weekend.
  • My wife and I ate at Jesse's Embers tonight. Man, that's good steak. I brought the leftovers back for Andy and he didn't even warm it up. He woofed it down faster than a stray dog. It was kind of gross to watch.
  • Shawn Johnson hasn't competed in 18 months, but she remains one of America's most marketable athletes. The latest... she's in the famous "got milk?" campaign.
  • Nice win, Iowa. The Hawks get a little payback for football. Northwestern has never been to the NCAA tournament, and the Wildcats won't make it now.
  • Hard to believe, but Iowa's win over Northwestern was the first over a top 100 team by the Hawks or Cyclones this season. Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register came on the Murph & Andy show Wednesday and said Iowa and ISU were oh for the season vs the RPI 100. That's all it took!
  • Iowa State is Groundhog Day. Cyclones hang, fade, lose. Rinse. Repeat.
  • Drake did everything it could to upset UNI, but it's just a mismatch. The Panthers are too experienced, physical, and good. UNI is 22-2. That's a season.
  • The USA's golden girl for the upcoming Olympics says she might not ski. Lindsey Vonn has a bruised shin. NBC is willing to send ice, ibuprofen, and whatever else is needed.
  • American Idol barely holds my interest during Hollywood Week. Too many people we don't know, therefore don't care. It is an improvement over the auditions, though I am always fascinated by people who can't sing but think they can. You ever been to Karaoke? You know what I mean. I try not to sing in the shower so I don't offend the tile.
  • Here's what I learned from Tana on the radio today: Even if your wife/girlfriend says, "Please don't get me anything for Valentine's Day. I mean it. I really don't want anything." She doesn't mean it. Get her something. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

  • Here's what can stop Ames High's #1 ranked basketball team: bad weather. The Little Cyclones 45th straight win will have to wait until Thursday. (Barring the upset of the new century by Indianola.)
  • Shawn Terrell put the jinx on himself tonight. He bragged how the Energy are so good, he can always shoot video of a bunch of highlights in a short time frame. That's all it took for the Energy to go cold, and Shawn to make a nice long stop at the Well.
  • Can't wait for #19 UNI at Drake. The young Dogs don't match up well with the physical Panthers, but a sold out, rocking Knapp Center will help Drake keep it a lot closer than last month's blowout.
  • Shawn Johnson stopped by today. She's on her way to Vancouver Wednesday. She'll spend a week cheering her friends, including Apolo Ohno, and playing "Mom" to some lucky young McDonald's contest winners. Shawn says we can also look for a new surprise from her at the NBA All-Star game. As for training, she's still working her way back into shape. Shawn tells me growing taller and older presents all new challenges for a gymnast, and even 18 can feel a little old. She still hasn't made up her mind about 2012, but I think she's enjoying life away from the gym too much to start spending 6 to 8 hours in one.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Hawkeye No Longer Top Draw

  • ...Hawkeye Pierce, that is. Super Bowl XLIV (I think that's 44) becomes the most watched television show in history. It topples the great M*A*S*H finale, "Goodbye, Farewell & Amen". It was a different era in 1983. Three networks still dominated. There were far fewer televisions, and far fewer Americans. M*A*S*H remains the only non-Super Bowl in the all-time top ten, but it's now #2. The Saints-Colts drew more than 106 million viewers---highest rated Super Bowl in 23 years (Giants-Broncos). I watched that M*A*S*H finale in my college dorm TV room. Do dorms even have those now, or does everyone just have a TV?
  • Another great game. Still can't believe Peyton made that pass, though Porter made a great play. Does it keep Peyton off the Mt. Rushmore of quarterbacks for now? I've got Unitas, Montana, Marino, Elway ... but Brady and Manning still can play their way on there. Maybe even Favre.
  • I thought The Who was okay. The stage upstaged the show. (Can a stage upstage?) The NFL needs to think about going a little younger. Who's next... The Oak Ridge Boys? How 'bout Green Day or Coldplay or the Black Eyed Peas or Jay-Z or the Isiserettes. Who am I missing?
  • My favorite commercial was for Doritos. The little boy sees his mother's date checking out his mom as she walks away. Kid slaps the man into attention: "Two rules. 1) Don't touch my momma. 2) Don't eat my Doritos". I also liked Favre as 2020 MVP, Betty White playing football, and the sentimental Google ad. Really disappointed in the Super Bowl Shuffle reunion. Lame. Go Daddy ads need to go away.
  • Speaking of Go Daddy, Danica says she'll race Saturday at Daytona in the Nationwide Series. I don't know who's going to win, but I can predict at least on driver who's track record suggests she won't.
  • Drake couldn't have a better guy holding its all time scoring record than Josh Young. Way to go, Josh.
  • Drake hosts #19 UNI Wednesday. 19 --- highest ranking in UNI history.
  • Took the whole family to the Ames High/Iowa Energy triple-header Saturday. We had a great time. The Energy really deserves more fans. It's the best basketball in the state, and the whole operation is first class and entertaining. We'll be back soon.
2 a.m. and every time I think I'm done answering emails, another one comes in. I've been at it for more than two hours.

In the 14 years of SoundOFF, we've never had more letters of support and praise in one night. I can't begin to explain how much that means. It's been humbling. We also continue receiving criticism, but the tone has changed---in most cases---to constructive. Thank you.

I've tried to answer each email and much of the feedback on this blog individually, but unless you're writing about something other than the polarizing Lickliter spoof, I don't  think there's anything else I can add. I've written two lengthy columns here, and we devoted much of SoundOFF to the controversy. You'll find "I Think", "What's Bugging Andy", my interview with Chris, and "Ask Gary Dolpin" on the video player.

Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Hate and Vitriol Aimed At Hassel Is Worse Than Anything He Did

I considered posting some of the vitriol that continues coming in to the TV station, but it makes me sad and ashamed. It is, at best, the definition of overreaction, and at worst, displaced anger.

Though I thought Chris Hassel's movie preview lampoon on SoundOFF was directed too much at one player, I did chuckle before cringing. Had I watched it first, I would have asked for changes. There is a difference between standing up for the what someone said, and standing up for someone's right to say it. I understand some fans forgetting this, but anyone in the media shouldn't need the reminder.

Some of the personal attacks on Chris Hassel, here and elsewhere, are as bad, if not worse, than anything he did. It's sad that the hypocrisy goes unnoticed by those who dish it.

We now have many people, including some from the U of I, commenting at length on a satirical video they haven't even seen. Criticism usually requires familiarity and context. It's not too much to ask. The past 48 hours, curiosity has gotten people. Many who read the newspaper stories and message boards felt compelled to finally watch the video. A frequent reaction: "That's it? That's what all this fuss is about?" Others want Chris fired, homeless, and miserable. I'm not exaggerating. I've had people wish humiliation for my kids. Not one of my children has reached the adult age of 20.

It's sad to see an excuse for a frustrated feeding frenzy. We're better than this. Or we should be.

Though WHO-TV President Dale Woods appreciated Gary Barta's request for an apology on behalf of the station, Dale respectfully declined. However, as Dale and I have both pointed out, if Chris chooses to apologize to John Lickliter, Todd Lickliter, or anyone else, Chris has our full support. If he does apologize to John or Todd, I hope he does it privately. An apology should come from one's conscience, not his desire for good PR. We've already had enough grandstanding on this. The last thing the world needs is an insincere public apology.

(By the way, I respect Barta's apology request, though it did give a dying story new life, and turned more attention than ever to the failing Iowa basketball program. I also appreciated Todd's general reaction as a proctective father and coach, though he was going on hearsay.)

I do know Chris did not set out to embarrass John Lickliter. Chris realizes some took it that way and feels bad about it. He also knows some people did understand and appreciate his basic premise for the movie satire: What if Rudy had to play more than half the game, and there was no happy ending? Chris' actual target was Todd Lickliter's program, not John Lickliter's shortcomings. As our GM pointed out, no Hawkeye fans complained when Chris did a spoof of Ricky Stanzi throwing interceptions for touchdowns because the football team was winning, and Stanzi doesn't look out of place. (Ask yourself, would people be this upset if the player in the video was Jarryd Cole?)

For those of you with honest, thoughtful, constructive criticism, like that which I tried to give Chris, I sincerely thank you. For the rest, I hope you'll consider that you are now doing exactly what you're accusing Chris of doing.
We have also had unprecedented calls and emails of support. I'll confess that I spend less time chewing on these than the anonymous hate, and that's just wrong. I've learned a lot this week, and not all of it makes me feel good.
Thank you for your time.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Lickliter Spoof Fallout

University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta asked WHO-TV to apologize for Chris Hassel's controversial John Lickliter spoof Sunday Night on SoundOFF. I respect Mr. Barta's decision to stand up for one of his, just as we stand by one of ours. Hawkeye fans should think more of Barta for doing this, not less.

I've received passionate e-mails and phone calls all week, including a few tonight. Most of the negative letters ask for my  take on Chris' segment. Here is one of my recent responses:

I appreciate you taking the time to write and ask for my opinion on Chris Hassel's spoof Sunday night. I take your constructive criticism seriously.

I will tell you that the Lickliter piece also made me uncomfortable. Had I seen it before it aired, I would have asked for changes. (Chris likes his taped pieces to air as we see them for the first time, so that our on-air reaction is honest. In retrospect, this is flawed idea, and we will no longer do this.) Like you, I thought the Lickliter spoof crossed the line. I chuckled early and cringed late.

However, the segment should not be confused with journalism, or a report in one of our Emmy award-winning newscasts. It's SoundOFF, a sports and entertainment show featuring strong opinions, passionate viewer feedback, and hopefully, a few laughs. It's closer in tone to the Daily Show or SNL than it is to NBC Nightly News.

Again, let me be clear, I did not care for the target of the spoof, but I'm glad we have such a popular forum for dissenting views and opinions. I have been stunned how many people loved it the video. I'm also aware of the many people who did not care for it. Satire is highly subjective. What's over the line for someone often depends on their biases and views going in. Humor, as you no doubt know, also often takes on a slight tone of mean-spiritedness. The line to not cross mostly depends whom you ask.

When Chris told me the general idea of his latest spoof, my advice was to "make sure it's not mean toward John. He's doing his best, and just wants to play for his dad." Chris honestly didn't think it was mean. I know he feels bad that he offended (some) people. He was trying to show what the movie Rudy would be like if Rudy had to play a lot more, and there was no happy ending. It was intended as a commentary on the state of the Iowa basketball program, not John Lickliter.

I don't agree with the content of "What's Bugging Andy?" each week, and I don't agree with everything Chris Hassel does or says, but I stand by their right to say it. (We're fortunate we have bosses who feel the same way, which is nothing to take for granted these days.)

If Chris wants to sincerely apologize, either publicly or privately, we certainly support that. We will not force him to do it, for that would accomplish little.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I appreciate your feedback.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

  • You can start engraving "Northern Iowa" on the MVC championship trophy. With the win over Wichita State tonight, it's over. I love watching the Panthers.
  • Hard to believe how fast Iowa State became irrelevent this season. I thought the Cyclones were NCAA tourney bound, but that seems like ages ago. Greg McDermott is a perfect fit in many ways, but if he doesn't win, fans won't care about the rest.
  • Everyone realizes the players at Iowa are trying hard. That's just not a Big Ten caliber team.
  • I can't get too excited about National Signing Day. I care when they start wearing the uniforms. 
  • Another classic Ferentz class. Nowhere near the top ten, but guys who fit the system, and several will end up in the NFL.
  • Paul Rhoads brought in Iowa State's best class in nearly a decade. That video from the Nebraska visitor's locker room didn't hurt.
  • Of the 10 Oscar nominees for best picture, I've only seen Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, The Hurt Locker, and Inglourious Basterds. 50%! That's a new low for me. Of the movies I've seen, I liked The Blind Side the most, and think Inglourious Basterds was the best picture, Hurt Locker second.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Hey it's Shawn...

I'm tempted to start this off with a Ned Ryerson joke... you know Ned Ryerson? Got the shingles real bad senior year... almost didn't graduate?  Nevermind.

Two years ago, Drake won on memorable buzzer-beater at Bradley.  Tuesday night, the Braves returned the favor.  The Bulldogs not only lost the game, they lost a tooth.  Josh Young caught an elbow in the paint, which left Young one tooth shy of a full set.  Both Erin Kiernan and Lynn Melling had the same reaction... gasp!  Erin and Lynn have often remarked how much they love Young's infectious smile.  I don't know much about dentistry, but I hope Josh's smile makes a full recovery.

It was great to catch up with members of Drake's 2008 NCAA Tournament team during the alumni game over the weekend.  Not surprisingly, a number of players from that magical team are already making meaningful contributions to society.  Klayton Korver tells us he's living in Salt Lake City with his brother Kyle, who plays for the Utah Jazz.  Together, they run a non-profit organization.  Two things the Korver's have always been good at... playing basketball and helping others.

In High School hoops, the marquee matchup of the regular season took place at Des Moines East.  The Scarlets (17-0) and Ankeny Hawks (17-0) played before a raucous crowd.  East pulled away late for the win.  I have a feeling there will be a rematch... next month at Wells Fargo Arena.

Chris Hassel and I had a blast filling in on "Murph and Andy" Tuesday.  My favorite part was an interview with Colin Cloherty, a rookie tight end for the Indianapolis Colts. Colin played at Brown, which is why Peyton Manning calls him "Ivy." By the way, Colin is my first cousin. Guess which team I'll be rooting for on Sunday?

Wednesday will be one of the busiest days of the year in our sports office.  It's college football signing day, and there's a full slate of college basketball.  In the afternoon, I'll be in Ames to find out what Paul Rhoads thinks of his new pledges. Then tomorrow night, I'll be in Cedar Falls as the Panthers host Wichita St. at the McLeod Center.  With a win, UNI will pretty much lock up its second-straight regular season MVC title.

Talk to you soon.


Monday - February 1, 2010

Chris here...

It's too bad Butler and Northern Iowa were both promised home games for this years BracketBuster weekend. It would have been fun to see another Top 25 showdown at Hinkle, or even McLeod (Drake beat Butler in the spotlight BracketBuster game in 2008). Instead, UNI hosts 17-6 Old Dominion on Friday, February 19th. Drake travels to the Matadome in Northridge California. They'll take on a bad Cal-State Northridge team.

Greg McDermott told us that guard Scott Christopherson has been playing with Mono for the last month. That's a pretty tough kid. It also shows that the transfer from Marquette cares about his team. They can't afford to lose anyone else., the official website of the Iowa Hawkeyes, has a countdown banner in the upper right hand corner of every page. Only 214 days, 7 hours, 2 minutes, and 14 seconds, until the Hawks kick off the 2010 season. That says a lot about the state of the men's basketball program.

Todd Lickliter said, on Monday, that he may play his son, John, more. 'Little Lick' saw 24 minutes in Saturday's loss at Michigan. The coach is getting a lot of heat for playing his kid, who many believe should not be on the floor. It's a tough situation for everyone. I feel bad for John because he's an easy target. I zeroed in on the guy on SoundOFF Sunday night, as some of you may have seen. It's not his fault that he isn't as talented as the other players around him, and he definitely tries to make up for it by playing with heart. For the record, I like Todd Lickliter, and I enjoy watching John play. I'm not going to say he doesn't belong on the floor because, on this team, he actually does. The bigger issue is the lack of talented players throughout the roster. Rest assured, if Kelly, Peterson, Davis, and Palmer, were still in Iowa City, John wouldn't be needed on the court. Is it coach Lickliter's fault? I'm not sure, but I really enjoyed watching them play against Michigan State, Indiana, and Ohio State. Let's hope they get back on the right track against Illinois.

Casey Blake made it official today. The Indianola school district is now $1 million dollars richer.

What should the new Big Ten logo look like, if they expand to 12 teams?
My vote is for 'BIGTENish"

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sunday - January 31st, 2010

Hey, it's Hassel, and it's finally my turn to update our new sports blog. Football is over as far as I'm concerned. I didn't watch one lick of the Pro Bowl, and the Super Bowl is the most over-hyped sporting event in the world. I don't mind the 7-hour pregame show, or the 4-minute commercial breaks. The thing I absolutely cannot stand, is the halftime show. It's 35 minutes of pure garbage. That being said, I'll watch the game start-to-finish. Although the Colts have Iowa ties, I'm rooting for the Saints.

I was at the Drake-Creighton game, on Saturday night. It reminded me of the 2008 season. The only difference was, Emmenecker and Korver were wearing headsets and not jerseys. They were guest commentators on the TV broadcast. It was easily the best atmosphere at the Knapp Center in the Mark Phelps era. I think the Dogs can beat anyone at Arch Madness, if they keep shooting the ball like they have been.

Northern Iowa will jump back into the AP Top 25 on Monday afternoon. At 19-2, I think 6 or 7 more wins will be good enough to secure an at-large NCAA tournament bid. Of course, the point will be moot if they win the Valley tournament.

Both Drake and UNI have 8 conference games left. They'll also play respective 'BracketBuster' games later this month. The pairings will be announced on Monday afternoon.

Indianola native, Casey Blake, will present the Indianola school district with a $1 million dollar check, Monday evening. Blake plays for the Dodgers, in Hollywood, but he hasn't forgotten his Iowa roots.

Here's what to watch for, this week:
- UNI can virtually wrap up the Valley with a home win against Wichita on Wednesday. A victory would give them a 3-game lead.
- Drake has road games at Bradley, and at Illinois State.
- Iowa State needs to find a way to win @Baylor and/or home vs. #13 Kansas State. If they lose both, you can say goodbye to post-season tournaments, including the NIT.
- Iowa has a winnable game at home against Illinois on Wednesday.
- National signing day is Wednesday. We'll hear from both Kirk Ferentz, and Paul Rhoads.
- The ISU wrestling program should win its 1000th dual, next sunday, at Arizona St.

I'll be back with more on Monday night.